Interview: Singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt on finding fame

Nina Nesbitt is returning to Edinburgh to play the Liquid Rooms
Nina Nesbitt is returning to Edinburgh to play the Liquid Rooms
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SHE’S already wowed the crowds at T in the Park and toured with heavyweight stars like Example, Rizzle Kicks and Ed Sheeran, but it’s a return to home turf that’s really got singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt buzzing.

Nina, 18, who hails from Balerno, has been heavily tipped for the big time despite having only begun her career a few years ago - by recording songs in her bedroom and posting the videos on YouTube.

The former Balerno High pupil, who finished school last year, didn’t even pick up a guitar until she was 15, when she set about teaching herself how to play using Ultimate Guitar. She was slowly working her way up the bill on gigs around the city when a chance meeting with Brit Award winner Ed Sheeran at a radio event led to her being invited to support him.

Though she soon began to attract the attention of major labels, until recently the teenager stuck to a resolutely DIY approach, ignoring offers whose terms didn’t suit and continuing to post her original material online when advised not to.

Although she has recently signed to Island Records, who also have megastars George Michael, Nicki Minaj, Paul Weller, Mumford and Sons, Jessie J and Keane on their roster, her initial grassroots Nina says thanks to her ‘Nesbians’ approach seems to have worked, with the youngster already gathering nearly three million views on YouTube, appearing in numerous lists of “ones to watch” for 2013 and rivalling the Twitter profiles of many household names, as she approaches 50,000 followers.

And while Lady Gaga may have her “Little Monsters” and Justin Bieber his “Beleibers”, Nina’s fans are known as “Nessies” and “Nesbians”.

Nina said: “They’ve created a real community feel, it’s brilliant to see the support and awareness building.

“There’s even a feature on my website where you can translate messages into codes, so whenever I have any big news it goes out in code first so the diehard fans are the first to know. We use it to chat too. I think it’s really important to show appreciation to the people who support you – I always try to reply to fans when I can.”

The teenager is also not afraid to respond to criticism, recently giving a piece of her mind to an ill-informed profiler who described her as “another London, middle-class, fame-school” wannabe, by tweeting: “From Edinburgh for a start, average background, state high school . . . judgmental people really irritate me.”

Nina, who was raised in the Capital by her Scottish father and Swedish mother, will be returning to her home town on March 16 when she plays the 650-capacity Liquid Rooms.

She continued: “It’s going be one of my biggest solo shows yet, I’m so excited, especially as it’s a venue I’ve been to as a punter so many times in the past.

“Lots of my friends are coming along too, which is fantastic as it’s difficult to get together now most of them are at uni and I’m basically living out of a suitcase, though I do try to get back to Edinburgh at least once a month. It’s lovely going shopping in places like Princes Street, the Royal Mile and Cockburn Street, it’s so tranquil and clean when compared with London.”

However, it’s likely Nina’s life will be anything but tranquil over the next year, with a new single and album following hot on the heels of her tour dates.

She said: “My next single – Stay Out – is scheduled for release around springtime. A lot of songs on the album deal with breaking up and growing up, so I wanted to do one song that was really happy and upbeat. Stay Out is about all the stereotypes of people you meet out and about. The video is already done and will be out soon – I think people will be really surprised by it.”

Nina’s debut album, produced by Jake Gosling, who has previously worked with both Ed Sheeran and Paloma Faith, is due out in the late summer, though if things had gone as originally planned it would have been released last month.

She explained: “I had a lot of songs written and ready, but I write constantly and I came up with some that I felt were better, so I’ve now got way more songs than I need. I’m always chopping and changing things about.”

The singer also reiterated denials of any romantic dealings with other musicians she has worked with, saying: “It seems as though if you go on tour with someone that means you’re automatically going out with them. I’m just focusing on my music. This time next year I hope to be doing even bigger gigs, and travelling across the world to places like America and Asia.”

If you want to be able to say you saw her way back when, tickets for the Liquid Rooms gig can be purchased at http://tickets.ninanesbittmusic.com/

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com